With much more demanding sterner stuff to deliver than what got them through from stage 1, Sri Lanka enters the fray in the Super 12 countdown of the 2022 T20 World Cup joining the automatically qualified 8 with the former 2014 world champions carrying the hangover of having been ousted from that once insulated heavyweight pedestal by minnows Afghanistan in an upswing highlighted by the Netherlands, Ireland and Zimbabwe completing the last 4 that made it from the opening stage of cricket’s most fast and furious paced version in typical Australian terrain. If the once war torn Afghanistan has astounded the cricketing world by its firm insulation of calling the shots from that strongly rooted conclave it’s cricketers have mounted from admirably sheer sweat, blood and tears given their country internal strife, the elimination by Ireland of the once mighty West Indies by 9 wickets that must have as the popular pun goes made Irish eyes smile, has certainly drummed up the extravaganza in a new tempo. It is the two fold Afghanistan-Ireland sword edge in that final slotting heightening the gallop in the powerhouse Australia, England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand and South Africa to the trophy glitter that will be the challenging tough call Dasun Shanaka”s young exuberant bucks will be fronting.
In a typical heavyweights scenario of the tough get going when the going gets tough, indeed, Shanaka’s team will need to intensify* their game in a much more concentrated all-round team effort of nothing short of the herculean if Sri Lanka is to go the ultimate distance. Having overcome the initial setback of losing to underdogs Namibia by 55 runs to making it on a superior run rate to heading Group A by defeating the UAE by 79 runs and Netherlands by 16, the Lankans did make amends. But the ignominy of having been humbled by the Namibians remains an awakening call to play the type of unrelenting attacking cricket drawn up in Group 1 alongside reigning champions Australia, England, New Zealand and Afghanistan. The realistic beckoning call will be to roar true to their pride of the Lions reputation of a cricket crazy expectant 22 million nation. To come to that good measure Sri Lanka will need to shed depending on individual performances particularly on the batting front that hinged mainly just one big contribution that came from Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis half centuries to get through against the UAE and Netherlands. The big guns will have to click against tougher opposition and that realism will come full circle when Sri Lanka goes head on in the second Super 12 clash against Australia on Monday October 24 at the Perth Stadium in Perth at 4.30 p.m. In the bowling the mainstay leg spin wizard Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva will need the wicket taking harmonising support of the top rungs.
The tournament dictate of the West Indies being knocked out by Ireland from Group B is indeed a shot in the arm for the less fancied in a truly significant advancement over the years along with Afghanistan in bringing new muscle to the big fold. The Irish were the third team to make up the last 4 coming 2nd in Group B with 4 points from 2 wins on net run rate of 0.105 after the Netherlands second in Group A with 4 points from 2 wins against the UAE and Namibia. The 4th team through Zimbabwe did dent Ireland’s thrust by 31 runs and Scotland by 5 wickets though losing to the West Indies by 31 runs.
Sri Lanka face the dangerous Ireland in their Super 12 opener at the Bellervie Oval at 9.30 am tomorrow while the crunch stage comes alive with hosts Australia taking on New Zealand today at the Sydney Cricket Ground at 9.30 am followed by England vs Afghanistan at the Perth Stadium, Perth at 4.30 p m.